Evolving ‘Race’ Designations

Isn’t There a “Truth in Labeling” Law in the US?

15 U.S.C. § 1051

America ‘seems’ obsessed with race and ‘labels’.  At least the government and their sycophants appear to want us to take allot of time thinking about it, feeling guilty over it and allowing them to throw it in our faces more than (I believe) it needs to be.  I, personally, think it’s nothing more than an on-going attempt to keep folks separated or pigeon-holed into opposing groups (conservative, liberal, us, them, etc.), keep groups at each other’s throats rather than seeing that we’re, for the most part, all in the same boat, with the same aspirations and very much having the same goals.  Perhaps it’s thought that if America can be broken up into ‘groups’ and those groups are ‘kept appart’ by creating friction between them or forced to compete for resources when no competition is warranted, then the groups will be so busy banging heads that they won’t pay much attention to the jerks that are creating the divisions. The Romans, back in the day, called the policy ‘Divide et impera’ – Devide and Rule!

I’m going to relate my ‘take’ on the subject of labeling which, I’m sure, some will claim is full of baloney or my perspective is “a white guy’s perspective” but say what you will, generally speaking, I believe this ‘labeling’ and ‘race’ obsession in the twenty first century is highly over rated in this country.  Bill Murray once quipped in the 1981 film Stripes (http://movieclips.com/Qy2V-stripes-movie-were-mutants/), “we’re Americans”, “we’re mutts” and that’s the view I adhere to more than any fake tribal or ‘racial’ designation the feds and their mouthpieces want to perpetuate in order to get one group to feel oppressed by another or to feel guilt ridden over being.  “Labeling” is just this kind of pigeon-holing in which totally manufactured ‘guilt’ is used to pitch one side against another.

I’ll give you an example.  This BS about “hispanics” – the feds classify these folks as some kind of race clearly worthy (it seems) of some level of preferential treatment.  Even the yahoos that advocate for them have taken the name “La Raza” which translates to ‘the race’.  I asked my friends in Madrid and Barcelona what ‘race’ they were and I’m sure it would surprise DC that they said they were “white”.  I tried to explain how our government and others have seemingly created a race out of folks of Spanish decent and they just laughed.  According to a piece on the DC based Pew Institute site expounding on the concept of or use of the terms Hispanic or Latino the authors relate: “Who’s Hispanic? Anyone who says they are. And nobody who says they aren’t.”  So that about sums it up.  Hispanic is any darned group who can trace their roots to Spanish decent.  

By that standard I’m ‘hispanic’, since my Irish family name ‘originated’ from the few survivors of the Spanish Armada under Medina Sidonia’s command out of Coruña, wherein some 24 of the 110 ships of the Armada heading back from Britain after a botched invasion in 1588, went down from Antrim in the north to Kerry in the south.  I see little difference between the Spanish conquest of Mexico beginning in 1519 and their kinsmen swimming ashore in Kerry in 1588, which means I’m a ‘Mick’ of Spanish decent commonly referred to as “the Black Irish”.  By Washington’s standards I’m hispanic or latino so where’s my special treatment, damn it?  Why aren’t my ballots and driver’s test offered in Gaelic?  My genealogical family hails from Ireland and Prussia.  Where’s my hyphenated designation?  Does my Irish/Germanic background make me Celtic/Aryan?  How about a Celtic-American, Aryan-American or a European-American?  Are the Celts or the Aryans a “race” like the Spanish?  The reality is that my family, like yours, makes me what Murray described as “mutts” who, being here now for a generation or more, makes us American.  Only a freaking idiot, desperately attempting to create dissension (‘Divide et impera’), would ‘invent’ a category of ‘race’ or attempt to hyphenate me.  

So, back to the mythical hispanics and latinos.  Someone making up a race out of the Spanish conquerors colonizing Central and South America and allegedly interbreeding with the indigenous people of the region are grabbing at straws.  The Spanish brought desease which resulted in epidemics killing millions of people, essentially in excess of 90% of the indigenous population in the hardest hit areas so, ancestors having an indian in their family wood pile in the 1700s does not make you an “Indian”.  You’re “mutts” as Bill Murray said.  Those claiming that background are (sorry) Spanish.  Because your ancestors washed up on the Caribbean coast doesn’t make you special or ‘different’ so get over it.  You’re white folks just like me. No special privilege or consideration is warranted or due.

Moving on, I can still (vaguely) remember when blacks were called ‘negros’ in my youth.  According to Wikipedia the word “Negro” is used in the English-speaking world to refer to a person of black ancestry or appearance. Negro denotes “black” in Spanish and Portuguese, derived from the Latin word, niger, “black”.  While there’s nothing particularly degrading in that word or description, because someone (back in the day) added a ‘g’ to the Latin word to describe people of color, it was perceived as racist and decided that to avoid the malicious connotation (the beginning of the political correctness era) they were called ‘colored people’ which, given the skin shade differential was probably more apt than either negro or black.  That said, “colored” went to “black”.  Now, of course, “black” and “colored” are out and the made up compound/hyphenated term of “African-American” became ‘in’ in the 1980s.

So let’s all obsess on names and labels that emphasize our differences rather than our common history.  The fact is, there’s no freaking reason on earth why the term “African-American” exists in the American lexicon.  Unless you can show me some lost tribe of Hottentots (a deprecated term for the Khoikhoi people of South Africa) living in Harlem or Detroit, I regret to say THERE ARE NO “AFRICAN” AMERICANS here unless those folks just showed up in America yesterday.  “African-Americans” have no more connection to Africa than I do.  Colored folks (blacks – whatever) in America are no more “African” than I’m European, Celtic or Aryan.  They’re ‘Americans’ with a better tan than I have.  

Oh, some might say, they were brought here as “slaves” and victimized on the evil southern plantations and, gee wiz, a civil war had to be fought to gain them their freedom, to which my response would be “that was over a century ago – get over it for god’s sake”!  Is it the fact that “African-Americans” were uniquely dragged here as slaves or is it the fact that a war was fought to free them that warrants a hyphenated label, special treatment in perpetuity, affirmative action or the expectation that after a century and a half, folks who had nothing to do with any of this are supposed to feel guilt ridden?

Slavery in the United States ended with the passage of 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865 unless you take the IRS into account.  Even the Confederate States of America, though their Constitution, outlawed bringing any future slaves into their country and that was 1860.  For those who won’t crack a history text or read anything beyond People Magazine I have some bad news on those Civil War/slavery issues.  The American Civil War (or the War of Northern Agression) wasn’t fought for the purpose of freeing any slaves.  Lincoln, the ‘hero’ of Abolition, stated in his inaugural address of March 4, 1861, that he had “no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”  In a letter to Horace Greeley, editor of the influential New York Tribune, he stated “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it,“ 

The North’s military commander, General Ulysses S. Grant (later President), in a letter to The Chicago Tribune in 1863, wrote: “The sole object of this war is to restore the Union. Should I be convinced it has any other object, or that the government designs using its soldiers to execute the wishes of the Abolitionists, I pledge to you on my honor as a man and a soldier, I would resign my commission and carry my sword to the other side.”  Contrary to myth, Lincoln DID NOT free all the slaves with his (1862) Emancipation Proclamation rather, only freed the slaves within the Confederacy where he had no jurisdiction and NOT the slaves held in states loyal to the Union where he did – Grant didn’t free his slaves until after ratification of the 13th Amendment.

Frederick Douglass, the famous leader of the abolitionist movement, warned Lincoln at the time that unless (Northern) slaves were guaranteed freedom and land bounties, “they would take up arms for the rebels.”  Now why do you suppose Douglas (a black guy) believed northern slaves would defect to the Confederacy and fight for the South?  Freaking odd, eh?  (better addressed with a separate piece I think)  So, odd or not, the “Civil War” wasn’t fought for black folks or to abolish slavery.  Sorry.  As to ‘collective guilt’ everyone is supposed to have, feel and express by letting certain folks slide on their social responsibilities for hundreds of years over the slavery issue, I think that’s a bunch of malarkey.  

Again, were one to take a step beyond Grammar School propaganda (in other words, crack a ‘real’ book rather than Facebook), one would see that colored folks were certainly not alone in their travails regarding forced labor.  In the American slavery context, the colored folks were, in fact, last in line and NOT unique.  In the work The Slaves That Time Forgot, John Martin points out “The Irish slave trade began when James II sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners be sent overseas and sold to English settlers. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold…  in the New World.  Speaking of the fate of the Irish and it’s people, he goes on to say: “From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade.”  The Irish (NOT the colored folks) were the “human cattle” of the period from the 17th and 18th centuries.  Indeed, during this period African slave trade was only just beginning wherein the Africans (they WERE “African” back then) were far more expensive to purchase and were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.  So again, where’s my hyphenated (Celtic-American) name?  Where are my preferential treatments and society’s set-asides for the Micks, Harps, the Paddy’s, Bog-jumpers and the WICs (White Irish Catholics) who were slaves here in America before the Africans arrived?

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Regardless of what the Brits and early American settlers did to the Irish or the settler’s progeny did to the Africans who arrived later, it was centuries ago.  Get over it.  I’m sure as hell not going to feel any guilt over how colored folks were treated prior to 1865 because neither I nor my family were there.  In fact ‘my’ particular family got here in 1897, a century after the majority of the colored folks did.  So, looking around my country at ANY colored folks I have to acknowledge that they and their ancestors are MORE ‘AMERICAN’ THAN I AM.   So, who’s more entitled to a hyphenated classification, them or me?

Quite simply, this “labeling” stuff and all the “guilt” that goes along with it is, in my view, bullshit.  Government set-asides in business for ‘minority’  businesses would certainly help my winning contracts but I doubt the hispanic/latino crowd (or government) is going to appreciate my claim to be hispanic regardless of my roots to the Spanish Armada in 1588 because it’s just plain STUPID.  I doubt the colored folks (or government) are going to  appreciate my claim to be “African-American” just because it’s been categorically proven by anthropologists that anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) ALL evolved in North or East Africa and then migrated out of Africa probably because it’s STUPID.  Both claims, on my part, might be said to be either a few centuries or a few million years stale.

If my concocted claim to be hispanic or latino is “stale” due to the time lapse  from 1588 to now (over four centuries), then so is any “African” claim stale unless ‘time’ means nothing.  If time doesn’t matter the American Indians (yeah, the Mayans and Aztecs too) need to revise their title from ‘American Indians’ to Asian-Indians or American-Asians because they got here from there 15-25 thousand years ago from Asia.  Perhaps the hispanic/latinos need to be reclassified as ‘Spasians’?

Rather than let the government and their shills try to convince folks to group themselves into artificial sub-groups (tribes) to compete for resources, guilt related sympathy or special accommodation and privilege over the other groups just because one gang of Homo-Erectus, leaving Africa turned left, another turned right and another went straight as they left the continent.  No one pays my rent & utilities because my ancestors were brutalized as slaves in the 17th century America.  No one feeds or educates me or my kid because my ancestors came ashore from a Spanish ship in the 1500s.  No one deposits funds to my ATM card every month, gives me preferential treatment in the business and job market or provides me a free cell phone because 200 million years ago my people left Africa and turned left.

We all need to put these hyphenated labels, made up categories of humanity and the expectation that “special treatment” should be afforded one group over another aside and start taking responsibility for our existence.  To do so gains people respect.  To not do so and to separate one’s self from those who do, through government inspired ‘differences’ and claims of entitlement based on the woes of one’s forefathers, can only result in distrust and the perception that those seeking such advantage are indeed incapable of taking care of their own.  It is self fulfilling.  Don’t demand equality in this world if you preface that claim by complaining you need ‘special’ dispensation from others.  In other words, forget “race” or “labels” and get off your ass. 

With regard to the Spanish fleeing Central and South America, I hate to be cruel but we don’t owe you an existence because where you came from is run by nitwits and living there sucks.  Go home and fix your country.  If need be put the current rulers against the wall and start over.  With regard to the colored, black or ‘people’ who, centuries ago came from Africa to America, this is your country not Africa.  It’s not the rest of us that somehow did this to you or your ancestors.  Your ancestors were sold to Europeans by the African elites of the time.  THEY sent your ancestors into bondage and, for the record, the first slave owner in this country was, in fact, a black guy named Anthony Johnson (Google it) who ended up ‘owning’ one John Casor who was another black guy.

We need to stop accepting these fake ‘labels’ foisted on us by those who’s goal is to keep folks divided.  We need to stop accepting these ‘labels’ that infer that one group of people should be anointed with ‘victim status’ such that we pander to them in perpetuity in ways such as not requiring them to learn or use our language while they live here or the many other preferential benefits that actually create division rather than integration into society as a whole.  We sure as hell need to stop accepting that we (in the 21st century) need to assume some measure of guilt over what was done to others hundreds of years ago.  These are unfounded accusations and are divisive.  Simple ‘respect’ is required for society to function and respect is NOT granted.  Respect is earned and requires that, at one point or another, all folks grow up and get their shit together rather than allow others (however temporarily benevolent) to provide for them.  No one is ‘entitled’ to more than they earn.

For any that still want to claim America is still some hotbed of ‘discrimination’ I might simply point out that this country has a ‘black’  President (such that he is) and a ‘black’ Attorney General, not to mention quite a few black General’s within the US military and you can’t get more ‘establishment’ than that.  The Army’s first was Benjamin Davis, Sr who became Brigadier General in 1940 (three quarters of a CENTURY ago) Commanding General of 4th Brigade, 2nd Cavalry Division in January 1941.  His son (Jr.) was an Air Force, four star General.  The number of black or “African-American” in the federal government’s employ is 18 percent which is 5 percent higher than our population demographic so let’s put to bed the myth that ‘the powers that be’ are discriminating against blacks.

Just my opinion of course but, since I’m (apparently) a hispanic/African-American, Irish-German lad, who’s ancestors, in some dark past, suffered under the boot of the ‘oppressor class’, my opinion should be afforded more weight and consideration than anyone else’s because I’m ‘entitled’ and ance upon a time,…  Yeah, right.

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”

Vladimir Lenin

 
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